Turkish Football Club Galatasaray Backs Player Facing Homophobic Harassment
Galatasaray center back Taylan Antalyalı was recently harassed by homophobic comments after posting a photo of himself wearing a “POWERED BY PRIDE” shirt on Instagram. Two football commentators, Turgay Demir and Emre Bol, not only publicly supported such comments but also announced that Antalyalı should not be allowed to play for the national team. In response, and in an admirable show of solidarity with their player, Galatasaray Sports Club has filed a criminal complaint against these commentators, charging them with “provoking the public to enmity and hatred.”
Turkey has an abysmal track record for LGBTQ+ rights. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has publicly claimed that LGBTQ+ folks simply do not exist in the country, while other officials condemn and vilify the queer activists trying to pave a better future for themselves. As recently as this past weekend, police officers in riot gear raided Istanbul’s annual Pride parade with tear gas and rubber bullets. Because nothing is more dangerous than a rainbow flag.
In stark contrast to the ringleaders parading around as the governing party of Turkey, Galatasaray Executive Board Spokesperson M. Remzi Sanver held a press conference to publicly support their player. He said:
Galatasaray derives its values from the Galatasaray School, which has a tradition of enlightenment. Among these values are freedom of expression and that no one is discriminated against because of their identity. Among these values is the awareness that one does not have to hold the related identity to be with the ones discriminated against.
Taylan Antalyalı’s initial Instagram post was deleted.
Forty-seven people, including two minors, were detained as a result of the attack on Istanbul’s Pride march. In March of this year, Erdogan also pulled out of the Istanbul Convention — aimed toward protecting women, who are killed in Turkey every day — because he felt it was “normalizing” homosexuality.